Monday, February 25, 2008

Walt, meet Richard

Hmm, seems like watching the Oscars has unleashed my inner film critic.

Several weekends ago the cinematic fare here at the old homestead was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Talk about glorious, epic messes. It had not one but two beginnings. (The first of which depicts one of the most brutal events I've seen onscreen in a long time -- did they really mean that!?) Within the first 30 minutes not one but two melancholy, evocative musical leitmotifs have been established. And what really got my smarty-pants attention was a sequence where Jack Sparrow is marooned in Davy Jones' locker -- there's as much surrealism and symbolism in that scene as you're ever likely to see in a mainstream blockbuster. The scene's script could have been by Beckett with production design by Magritte.

Then I got to thinking: all of the musical clues to characters' feelings and motivations; the themes of nautical redemption; the stylistic pastiche; the Flying Dutchman -- this reminds me of something. Why, Wagner, that's what! He even based one of his operas on the same seagoing legend. And if Wagner is anything, it's a glorious, epic mess. Maybe it's a stretch, but I was struck by the parallels. And the high-end CG in Pirates of the Caribbean certainly reminds me of Wagner's notorious tendency to come up with stage directions that were nearly technically impossible in his day. As I recall, the libretto of Der Fliegende Holländer ends with the direction that the ship break into pieces, swallowed by the sea, while a couple of characters are borne skyward above it in an embrace of redemption. That sequence would have fit into the Disney movie just fine.

Logically, the next step is Mickey Mouse as Siegfried in the Ring.



At February 26, 2008 at 5:23 AM , Blogger Tom said...

I'm waiting for the Aardman production of Boléro featuring 15 (or, ideally, 18) minutes of penguin ballet.


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